Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heading for the Holidays

Wow!  Thanksgiving has already come and gone!  Time to put away the turkey

and take out the Christmas decorations!

Both of the above quilts are 24" wall quilts that I made for my son Dave and his wife, Emily.  We had a nice Thanksgiving buffet at Margaux in Raleigh, a restaurant I highly recommend.  Then it was so warm that we sat outside on the back deck until the stars came out.  Charlie built us a fire in the fire pit, and we had a relaxing day.

On Friday. our South Carolina family came up and stayed the weekend.  On Saturday, Charlie and I took the three kids to the Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh.  That was an amazing place, and the best bargain in town at only $5.00 per head. 

All three kids were captivated by all the hands-on interactive activities.

The oldest, Avery, showed up this time with a semi-Mohawk and a rat-tail.  We like him anyway.

This morning I had to go get "my girls" checked by mammogram at 9:00 and was done by 9:10.  It was raining when I left, but as soon as the sun came out I loaded Kasey in the car to go for a walk on the greenway.  I could walk there, but since hurting my ankle last summer I prefer to drive and save my steps.

Sometimes when the weather has been bad, we have been lucky enough to see deer emerging on the greenway.  Sure enough, we had just gotten started when I saw this pretty lady.

We both just froze and looked at each other.  I was able to raise my camera to take her picture, and she actually started walking toward me.  She and Kasey did not even notice each other.

About that time, four or five other deer came up behind her.  They all turned and went into the creek.  There are at least three of them in the next picture...Where's Waldo?

The creek was very swollen from the rain.

It spilled over the rocks  at the cascade with a lot of energy.

I am almost finished binding and tying off the threads on the candlewick quilt, and will show pictures of it next time.  Meanwhile, I have two Christmas parties on Friday.  One is my bee's annual brunch.  I am working on a gift for our Secret Santa exchange.  Can't show you yet!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Turkey Day!

Here is a very sunny turkey, made once again from the leftover paint on my watercolor palette.

He started out to be another "Imaginary Animal" for The Sketchbook Challenge theme this month, but he got turned into the guest of honor of the traditional American Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow Charlie comes home, Thursday Dave and Emily will be here, and Friday Bryson and Melissa and their kids will come for the weekend.

The candlewick quilt has about one-third of the binding hand-sewn on.  I will work on it tonight during the finals of Dancing With the Stars.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mountain Fresh

It was sunny and mild in the mountains yesterday, too.  Charlie sent me this photo of our bed quilt and comforter getting freshened on the line in our back yard.

I'm going to try to finish the quilting on the candlewicking quilt today, and get the binding sewn on.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Swirly Girls, Show-and-Tell, Paintings and Projects

On my last blog post, I did not mention the great Guild meeting on Thursday night.  After the art museum Rembrandt exhibit, my friend Donna and I went to dinner and then to the Capital Quilters Guild meeting.  The evening's lecture was by The Swirly Girls, who were two lovely, funny, and talented ladies from Midlothian, Virginia.  Susan and Christine told the story of their partnership in fabric and pattern design, and had an awesome trunk show of many of their quilts.  I highly recommend them if your Guild needs speakers! This picture is from their website.

Enjoy the trunk show, peering around people's heads like I did!

We also had a great guild show-and-tell.

I bought some more watercolor painting kits from my mentor, Karlyn Holman, at Art of the Carolinas last weekend.  I started one of them this weekend.  I found out that this one does not have a corresponding lesson in the DVD or book Watercolor Without Boundaries, so I just plunged in.  Later I found it in her other book, Watercolor Fun and Free.  I was not following procedure very well.  Oh, well.  I like it!

The weather was so warm and gorgeous today that after our walk, Kasey and I sat outside on our deck, gazing at the woods. 

I continued stitching the Mary Cassatt color study that I put together for my latest Pamela Allen class.  This photo is before any of the hand embroidery, because right now it is stuck full of pins.

I also attempted Lesson 4, which was to compose an abstract version of our selected subject.  I have been working on landscapes for this class.  I put together this piece by just layering fabrics and cutting a few shapes that might be part of a mountain landscape.  Hmm, apparently it is too realistic.

I like it, and might keep it despite the fact that it was not approved as an abstract.  I will try again!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What I've Been Doing This Week

This week has gone by quickly!

Monday, I tried to replicate the watercolor that I did in Tom Lynch's class on Saturday.  I collected some leaves in the backyard and went through the same process.  Here is the new attempt.

I kind of like it!  The background leaves are kind of ghostly.

On Tuesday, Charlie and I went to see the Radio City Music Christmas Spectacular at the Durham Performing Arts Center.  I had been to Radio City Music Hall in New York several times as a child, but Charlie had never seen the Rockettes.  It was a good show with great visual effects.  Of course, it was 75 degrees outside, which did not seem too Christmasy!

Charlie left for the annual deer camp on Wednesday.  On Thursday, I went to the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh to see the special Rembrandt exhibit.  There were 47 Rembrandt paintings on display.  Or, maybe three Rembrandts, and 44 Wannabees? 

Apparently, Rembrandt ran a portrait assembly line.  He might do the face, and then pass it down the line to his students or assistants to complete.  He did not document the subjects of his paintings very well, either.  It is a matter of educated guesswork to determine if the subject matter was a family member, client, or perhaps a saint. 

Nevertheless, the paintings were awesome.  The faces were amazing.  Many of the people in the paintings wore lace collars or millstone ruffs of white.  They looked like they were actual lace.  They did not allow photography in this exhibit.

I have been working on the candlewick quilt and it is almost finished.  I am beyond pleased with the way it is turning out.

Each square has a different quilting treatment, depending on the motif.  The embroidery is really popping out when the quilting flattens out the background areas.

Only two more squares to go!

We are continuing to have beautiful weather in these last days of autumn.  Today it turned much colder.    I took Kasey for a walk on the greenway between Wake Forest and Rolesville.

There was some frost this morning.

We still have lots of gorgeous fall color, but I am afraid it will not last much longer.  This is one of my favorite trees, a big oak that leans over my street and provides a canopy of shade until its leaves are shed in the fall.

When the woods are backlit from the morning sun behind my house, I feel so completely happy and grateful to live in a beautiful state.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Landscape #3: Emotive Landscape

I do intend to revisit my Cubist landscape from Lesson 2 of the Pamela Allen series workshop, but went ahead and plunged into Lesson 3 yesterday.  The purpose of this online workshop is to interpret a chosen subject using four different interpretations.  This week's study is Expressionism.  How do you convey a mood or emotion in a piece of art?

Well, this artist did it rather effectively!
The Scream, Edward Munch

There are many ways to achieve a certain mood, one of which is color.  Light and bright often equals happy, as in this lovely seaside painting by Monet;

The Garden at Sainte-Adresse, Claude Monet

 Dark colors can be foreboding, threatening, or just plain depressing.


The Potato Eaters, Vincent Van Gogh

How about this one?  Not exactly warm and fuzzy.   Not only is the subject old, blind, underfed and dressed in rags...the blue tone adds to the depressive mood of this painting.

The Old Guitarist, Pablo Picasso

For my expressive landscape art quilt, I decided the subject would be an old abandoned barn.  There are many of these in the Ashe County mountains where we have our cabin, as well as throughout North Carolina as family farms are abandoned and development encroaches.  This photo is of the barn across the road from our cabin.  It belonged to my brother-in-law's late grandfather.

Here is the composition I created as a "melancholy" landscape.

The barn has weathered gray boards that are leaning at odd angles.  Kudzu vines are starting to take over.  The old fence is falling apart.  There is an empty garden with nothing but a dead plant.  The dark hill behind the ban looks threatening, as does the stark leafless tree.

This is a fascinating workshop that is stretching my artistic abilities!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blog Give-Away Winner! The Wedding Quilt

It's time to announce the winner of The Wedding Quilt, the latest in the Elm Creek Quilts series by Jennifer Chiaverini!

I used a Random Number Generator on the Internet, which picked the number 12.  The lucky winner is Linda Creech!  Here is Linda's comment about her quilting friendships.


I have been a member of the Capital Quilters Guild and the Undercover Bee for at least 15 years but until 2010 I was just a group member. In 2010 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and the ladies who were just part of the group became true friends. They created a beautiful inspirational wall hanging and the many cards and hugs that I have received for the past almost two years now has really uplifted me to show me how supportive we all are to each other.


How perfect is that!  Congratulations, Linda, and thanks to everyone who shared the special relationships and friendships that quilting has brought to their lives.

While The Wedding Quilt is today's topic, I thought I would share the story of a wedding quilt that I made for my son Dave and daughter-in-law Emily.  Emily asked for a quilt in all whites.  Smart girl, because that is a quilt that could be used in any decor or style.

Only problem...I like to work with color, and get bored easily.  It took me over a year to finish this quilt.  I decided to make the quilt with squares of white, cream, ivory, and even beige in a variety of fabrics.  Cotton, satin, Fairy Frost...I collected many beautiful fabrics and got them stitched together in a queen-size top.

Still, I was not very interested in this project.

Then, I put it on the longarm, started to quilt...and the magic began to happen.  I used Nichole Webb's Floribunda Feathers, and by the time I was finished I could hardly stand to give this quilt away!

Almost one year after their wedding, the quilt was finished...but they had to wait until after the Capital Quilters Guild show to receive their gift!  I snagged a third place ribbon in the bed quilts category.

And then they finally got their wedding gift!  Emily looked pretty happy!

But that is not the end of the story.

Six months later, Dave and Emily were awakened from their sleep on a Sunday night by someone banging on their door to say that their apartment building was on fire.  They got out quickly without grabbing anything, even car keys or eyeglasses.  The next morning, this was their building.

The fire started on the third floor.  Dave and Emily's apartment was on the first floor.  It was not consumed with fire, but was totally damaged due to smoke and water.  Everything was covered with soot, broken glass, and water. They were able to retrieve most of their possessions the next day.

I started pulling out my white fabrics to start all over again...but a specialty cleaner saved the day.  The quilt that I thought had been totally damaged came out looking pretty darn good!  Only a small yellow stain remains to tell the tale of that horrible night.

Everyone in the building survived, Dave and Emily's marriage has survived, and the wedding quilt has suvived to tell its story.

God is good!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Artful Fibers Challenge

I recently responded to a call-out by C&T Publishing Company to create a project from their new "Artful Fibers" package, which will be available for purchase from their catalog or website in 2012. 

I received an intriguing assortment of fiber goodness to play with!

  • Silk,  Silk Linen, Linen Silk Blend fabrics (approximately a fat eighth of each)
  • Shape-flex – all purpose woven fusible interfacing.
  • Bamboo Batting
  • Fusible Web
  • Spunbond - a strong, water resistant interfacing. It offers interesting effects when painted.
  • Silk Cocoons
  • Silk Roving – this can be felted, spun, painted etc.
  • Silk Rods
Everything was white or in its natural color- meaning that I had to get busy with some paints!

First, I painted the silk fabrics with Setacolor paints.  Some of them enjoyed a little sun printing.  The Linen-Silk blend was my favorite.  I used a cool floral or sunburst stencil and some tiny flower petals.  I used three colors of paint in buttercup, vermilion, and cardinal red.

It came out like this.  A bonus piece of fabric was created from the dropcloth, because the paint was absorbed through the silk fabric!

I also painted a more purplish mix cardinal red, violet, and fuchsia.

The third piece, which was pure silk, was painted with a cool combination of Pernod Green, moss green, and emerald green.  I sprinkled some marigold leaves over the wet fabric.

When the paint was dry, I did some further embellishment with Lumiere metallic paint, stamps, and stencils.

Then I quilted each piece on my Janome 6600 sewing machine, with no backing fabric, just batting.  I love to do free motion quilting!  I added in some ribbons.  These became journal covers!

I used fabric for the inside covers, and added some pockets for bookmarks.


I used some Setacolor-painted lace for a couple of pockets.  The bookmark is the Spun-Bond interfacing, which does not need to be finished.  I just painted it with Lumiere and cut it with a rotary cutter.  A heart-shaped punch and some sari ribbon finished the bookmark.

Here is the inside front cover of one journal, with a corner pocket and another bookmark.

I dyed some of the silk roving with Kool-Aid, and felted it to make a flower for the bookmark.

The pages of each book were made of painted watercolor paper or coordinating scrapbook paper.  I used ribbon or embroidery floss to bind the signatures to the fabric covers.

 Some of the pages were trimmed with ribbons, lace or other embellishments.

Two of the journals are tied with silk sari ribbons, and one features a latch made of some funky fabric I made a long time ago from needle-felted plastic bag with lots of machine stitching.

I wrote a tutorial for these fabric journals, which C&T may choose to use on their blog at some future date.  It was a lot of fun to play with the Artful Fibers!

If you would like to become a member of C&T's Creative Troupe and participate in future call-out challenges, just apply online.  There are lots of benefits to being a member!